Dusk, July 4th, Vermont. Can you see the holiness? Actually, how can one not see the holiness?
It has taken me so long, with this lengthy waking-up process and this endless circling around the spiral of the same questions, the same heartbreak, the same wound, but I am occasionally aware of a sense of joy so sturdy I think I have to call it contentment. The truth is I’m unaccustomed to this kind of happiness.
Untrammelled joy is just not a part of my normal range of emotion. Spikes of overwhelming happiness alloyed with a breathtaking wonder at this world? Yes. Dark moments of despair and equally overwhelming awareness of all the ways in which this life cuts me? Yes. But this sense of steady pleasure at my life? That is new.
And it’s not constant. Far from it. Oh, sadness will always be a part of me, an undeniable part of my personality. I’ve written about the seam of sorrow that runs through me and it is stitched through every moment of my life. But there was a morning recently where I woke up, noticed the particular grey of the sky (it has been a hideously horrible summer for weather here), sipped my coffee, read some blogs I love. As Grace and Whit were having breakfast, before I drove the to farm camp, they started bickering. And it aggravated me, but somehow it felt different. It didn’t disrupt the current of my morning, did not dislodge the sense of contentment that had floated over me in the morning.
Something fundamental has shifted. Daily, I am overcome with the sheer outrageous privilege of living on this earth. That’s not new, but perhaps the accumulation of days has finally come to something, built a base of joy on which I now stand. I’m the same person, and I still cry every single day, and I get snappy and short and frustrated and aggravated. But there is something more rooted, something firmer, as though some essential contentment that has spread over the soil of my soul.
I keep thinking of Annie Dillard’s quote that “Holiness lies spread and borne over the surface of time and stuff like color.” It’s as though I have finally learned to see that holiness, and now I can’t stop seeing it. No matter how bad a day I have, that holiness is always there, and it buoys me.
Do you know what I’m talking about? I feel as though my connection to the world is gradually deepening, and this tether feels firm, solid. I can hold onto it. On the worst days, when all i can do is whisper “thank you” and try to remember that I mean it, when Whit comes to me and looks at my face and asks me if I feel like Temple Grandin (he was very affected by that movie, and immediately understood that the ways in which the world overstimulates her were similar for me), when everything makes me weep, I can hold onto that tether and know that it will bring me back to center eventually.